Dr. Manny Sethi has ties with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), an organization that does not support gun rights. But, the NRA considers the GOP Senate candidate to be pro-gun and he has made statements against gun control.
Sethi and former Ambassador to Japan Bill Hagerty are competing for the Republican nomination to succeed retiring Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) in the U.S. Senate. Election day is next Thursday, August 6.
RWJF promotes analyses and research findings showing gun violence as an alleged public health problem. A list of such research is available here.
Dr. Sethi received two grants from RWJF totaling $60,000, one for $20,000 (along with Dr. Alex Jahangir) in 2012 and another for $40,000 in 2013.
Sethi and Dr. Alex Jahangir in fall 2012 used a $20,000 RWJF grant to conduct a pilot program on violence prevention for 150 sixth-graders at Cameron College Prep middle school in Nashville, according to a story published by Vanderbilt University Medical Center in January 2013.
Jahangir serves on the board of nonprofit Healthy Tennessee that Sethi founded but left prior to running for the U.S. Senate, as The Tennessee Star recently reported. Jahangir, along with fellow Healthy Tennessee board member Dr. Jesse Ehrenfeld, signed an attack ad against Marsha Blackburn in her 2018 Senate race that was paid for by the Tennessee Democratic Party. Jahangir serves as the director of Nashville Mayor John Cooper’s COVID-19 task force.
Prior to their pilot program at Cameron College Prep, Sethi and Jahangir had conducted research based on their observations at Vanderbilt’s emergency department showing that Black males between 18-25 years of age were 3 times more likely to be shot.
Sethi and Ehrenfeld were among the co-authors of research about minorities and gunshot wound cases in emergency rooms that was published in the Journal of Emergency Medicine.
Sethi and Jahangir were also health policy associates at Meharry Medical College’s Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center for Health Policy.
The RWJF grant program aimed to improve minority health “and/or the elimination of health disparities,” Vanderbilt’s story said.
Sethi received another $40,000 grant from RWJF in 2013 to run his conflict resolution program in more Metro Nashville schools, Meharry Medical College said.
Sethi and Jahangir’s pilot program used the “Aggressors, Victims, and Bystanders” (AVB) curriculum.
That curriculum is by Dr. Ronald G. Slaby.
The New York Times in August 1993 reported on violence prevention efforts aimed at youths. In it, Slaby called for gun control measures.
Another recommendation is that laws be changed to require anyone who purchases a gun to be of voting age and pass a background check and a test on firearm safety. “It should be at least as hard to get a gun as to get a driver’s license,” Dr. Slaby said.
The Star emailed these questions to Sethi campaign manager Forrest Barnwell-Hagemeyer:
- Can you discuss Sethi’s work with Jahangir on developing an anti-violence program with Metro Nashville Schools? Was it anti-gun? What techniques did it advocate for handling conflict?
- The pilot used Dr. Richard Slaby’s “Aggressors, Victims, and Bystanders” (AVB) curriculum. Dr. Slaby has advocated for stricter gun controls like a firearm safety test and gun buyers be of voting age. Does Sethi support such measures?
- RWJF advocates for gun control. Is Sethi currently affiliated with RWJF, or if not, when did he end his affiliation?
Barnwell-Hagemeyer said, “Bill Hagerty’s lying again: Manny is 100% pro-gun, carries a concealed weapon, has always opposed universal background checks and red flag laws. Healthy Tennessee worked on a conflict resolution program for kids, partially through a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation aimed at getting teens in violent neighborhoods to solve their problems without shooting each other. In fact, in the press release accepting the grant, Manny is quoted saying, “guns don’t hurt people, instead people hurt people.”
The NRA Political Victory Fund considers both Sethi and Bill Hagerty to be pro-gun. A grade card for Tennessee’s U.S. Senate candidates is here. Both Sethi and Hagerty have a score of “AQ,” meaning they are “a pro-gun candidate whose rating is based solely on the candidate’s responses to the NRA-PVF Candidate Questionnaire and who does not have a voting record on Second Amendment issues.”
The Star asked the NRA for a copy of the candidates’ responses, but the organization said candidate answers are private.
The RWJF statement that Barnwell-Hagemeyer referenced is available here.
Sethi: I like to say that guns don’t hurt people, instead people hurt people. We need to really focus on developing alternative conflict resolution strategies in our children.
USA Today in March 2013 quoted three researchers, including Sethi, whose findings showed that gun injuries and deaths cost billions of dollars a year but all of whom did not advocate gun control in lieu of finding other solutions.
“Black-and-white solutions are never the answer,” Sethi said of tighter gun controls. “We need an alternative path.”
– – –